Can a Golf Ball Damage My Solar Panels?

By Isaac Ost
10 July 2018
Can a golf ball damage my solar panels?

In California and many of the other states where solar is prevalent, there is no shortage of golf courses and homes that surround them. For people that own or live in homes on golf courses, one of the biggest concerns is whether or not a golf ball will fly into your yard and damage your property.

Although instances where a golf ball may strike your solar panel are rare, it is still valid to focus on this possible event. The material of your solar panels and how they are mounted has a direct impact on whether or not your solar panels can withstand a strike from a golf ball or other projectile, so it is important to consider the strategies that will help improve your solar panels longevity.

Solar Panel Material

Solar panels are made up of individual units called photovoltaic cells. These cells are molded from silicon in a process that may differ depending on the type of solar panel module being manufactured.

Typically, the cells are attached together to form a panel which is fit into a rectangular, aluminum frame and covered with durable tempered glass. This glass is designed so that when it shatters or cracks it still can hold its form and not break apart. Most solar panels have glass that can withstand the weight of an adult standing on the center of it.

If the glass that covers your solar panel does get damaged and cracked, it will still function, but not at its maximum capacity.

Solar Panel Durability

The individual photovoltaic cells that make up a solar panel are very fragile, but the tempered glass that covers them is sturdy. Although solar panels are not tested for whether or not they can withstand a strike from a golf ball, they are tested for hail damage.

Most solar panels are tested using an impact from hail of 1 inch in diameter striking at a speed of 50 mph. This helps to simulate some of the worst environmental conditions that your solar panels may be exposed to. Outside of hail and other similar projectiles, solar panels also hold up quite well in hurricanes.

All of this should give you some confidence that your solar panels would survive most golf ball strikes, but each ball that is hit in your solar panel’s direction will have a unique angle and speed, which ultimately contributes to the force of the ball’s impact.

Your Home’s Position on the Golf Course

The way in which a golf ball will strike your solar panels depends on where your home is positioned relative to the tee-off at a given hole. If you are closer to the tee-off point, it is more likely that if a golf ball did hit your panel, it would not be at a perpendicular angle and would do little if no damage at all.

On the other hand, if your home is at the 200 yard point of a hole, the golf balls flying in this direction will strike your panels at a more perpendicular angle while traveling down, increasing the likelihood of them cracking your panels.

When you install your solar panels, you want to ensure that the installer you are working with will account for these details. They can select specific parts of the rooftop to install the panels, or angle them in a certain way to minimize serious impacts. You can also add a net above the panels, but the shade caused from this net will impact the productivity of your panels.

solarnet

Mitigating Your Risk

At the end of the day, it is possible for your solar panels to crack from the impact of a golf ball. This, however, is highly dependent on the way in which the golf ball strikes the panel. Because of this, it is important to plan your solar panel system so that it is exposed to possible golf ball hits as little as possible.

For most homes on a golf course, the amount of damage that your solar panels will receive from a golf ball strike will be largely unnoticeable. Alternatively, if your home’s location makes it more prone to be in the direction of a landing golf ball, then you can start thinking of ways to mitigate the possible damage.

Your installer should be able to take into account these possibilities during the planning stage of your solar project.

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